“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day Three, Part One

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

Today was my birthday and lucky for us, it was “Sea Day Brunch” day – one of our favorite things about Carnival. We’ve sailed on all the major cruise lines and we love Carnival service.

Rich started the day with a birthday card for me, and then we were off to the dining room at the opening of Brunch – about 8:30 a.m. I think.

I wasn’t sure about the Bloody Mary but when the couple next to use ordered one, we decided to join in but made mine a Bloody Maria (tequila instead of vodka).

I had my usual Huevos Rancheros with a fruit plate starter and Rich started with a Bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon and then the Blueberry Pancakes with a side of bacon for his entree.

But the highlight for me is this particular muffin – I think it’s a cappuccino muffin. It’s amazing and I have to have it every time. The chocolate muffin isn’t bad either. I really need to get a good photo of the muffins – I only have a pic of a half-eaten muffin take a few years ago – lol!

We ate our brunch and took our drinks to the Xanadu Lounge, then returned to our suite to change into our swim suits and hung out on lounges on the Serenity Deck.

We returned to the room to nap. For lunch, Rich ran up to Guy’s when we got hungry and brought back a couple of burgers – not sharing this time – lol!

Oh my, no wonder I’m still trying to work off this trip. But birthdays only come once a year, thank goodness!

I was worried about being too full since tonight was my birthday dinner at the Chef’s Table so we skipped the fries. 🙂

Rich will write up the Chef’s Table report.

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day Two

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

As I mentioned here, we ate the leftover steak from Napa Rose for breakfast this morning along with some eggs from the hotel breakfast buffet. Then we headed for the port of Long Beach via my old stomping grounds – childhood home, high school, and other neighborhoods. I’ve posted enough pics about them so I won’t repeat that – lol!

We were a bit confused by the entry to the port due to some detour. But when we looked confused, a bus driver asked if everything was okay via a thumbs up? And so I rolled down the window and asked how to get to the port and he very nicely gave us directions. We were so impressed!

We parked the car in the garage and headed for the new check-in area at were directed to priority boarding and were onboard in no time at all. Because we were suite passengers, our room was ready so we dropped off our luggage and I noticed there were birthday decorations and a bottle of Prosecco that Rich had ordered. Yay! We met our cabin stewardess who was amazing and kept our ice and water well-stocked and cleaned.

 

We then headed for Guys Burgers for lunch. We shared the Straight Up – amazing!! Maybe even better than In N Out! Ohhhhh!!!

Then we made our way to the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and Rich ordered a Blue’s Patron Margarita for me then ran over to the Red Frog Rum Bar on the opposite side of the ship and brought back his Rum Jumper (aka Rum Runner).

Rich’s Rum Jumper

Kathy’s Blue’s Patron Margarita

We did a bit of a ship tour, although we have sailed on two sister ships, the Paradise (twice), and the Inspiration. One of our favorite areas is the Adults Only Serenity Deck, especially on this class of ship.

We unpacked our carry-on bags and then it was off for the Muster Drill. Ours was located up on the pool deck. Carnival has improve somewhat with accounting for people by electronically beeping people’s Sail & Sign cards, similar to Princess but Princess is far more efficient. Then it was time for sailaway, although there seemed to be a bit of delay.

Our Prosecco was on ice waiting for us but due to the delay, we headed to the salad bar (Carnival’s is the best!). We made our way back to the cabin where chocolate covered strawberries, cookies, macaroons, and truffles awaited! Eventually, the ship began to move and Rich popped open the Prosecco, poured us each a glass, and we sailed away from our balcony.

I don’t remember doing much more after we sailed away. I think we pretty much just hang out on the balcony, which is our favorite thing to do on a ship. This is why we cruise. We texted with our pet sitter a few times before leaving range. We were pretty tired, as we always are on embarkation day.

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day One, Part Three: Napa Rose

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

Birthday Dinner at Napa Rose

We were enjoying sipping our Pinot Noir in the Napa Rose Lounge when a server came by, told us our table was ready and carried our wine as she led us to our table. We were seated at a table for two near the open kitchen where I could watch Andrew Sutton cook. If you’ve read our prior Napa Rose reports, you’ll know I am a big fan of Andrew Sutton and his food.

Our server, excellent throughout our meal, took our order and brought us a basket of delicious breads, including tasty rosemary rolls and delightful parmesan crisps.

MENU

Appetizer (Shared)

Barbequed Bristol Bay Diver Scallop
with Forager Mushrooms, Apple Bacon, and Summer Peaches

Entree (Rich & Kathy)

Grilled Creekstone Farms “Prime” New York (Medium Rare)
Bone Marrow Fritter, Onion Fondue, and Mustard Crème

Wine (Rich & Kathy)

MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir

Dessert (Shared)

Valrhona Blond Chocolate Crunch Covered in Dark Chocolate Ganache
Caramelized Bananas and Honey Sauce

We always wanted to try the diver scallop appetizer at Napa Rose, and we finally got our chance. Andrew Sutton changes the preparation often, and this preparation was exquisite. This has to be the best scallop we’ve ever had. Amazing!

We both ordered the New York Strip. Sometimes a steak is just a steak, but not at Napa Rose. Cooked perfectly, the steak was luscious, juicy, and seasoned splendidly. The accompaniments were good, but the steak was the star.

Since it was Kathy’s birthday, our server offered her a free dessert from the menu. She chose the Valrhona chocolate dessert that we shared. What can we say? YUM! That about sums it up. It was rich, chocolaty, and, well, incredible.

This was our best Napa Rose experience, even better than the Chef’s Counter. The service, food, and atmosphere were delightful. This was a fantastic way to start the celebration for Kathy’s birthday and kick off her birthday trip.

Bread Service

The Amazing Scallops

Awesome Steak

Complimentary Birthday Dessert

Kathy’s Comments: Looking at the photos, it might seem as if we were skimping but neither of us could finish our steak – Rich left a couple of bites on his plate and we took about half of mine back to the hotel, stored it in the fridge, and the next morning heated it up with the hotel eggs and had Steak and eggs for breakfast, which was absolutely scrumptious the next day.

 

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day One, Part Two

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

Picking up the story where we left off in Part 1 (pulling over to figure out how to get to 405S and to make arrangements for Skipper with our pet sitter), we found our way to the freeway, amazingly enough. We were both quite devastated over the news and I suggested we cancel my birthday dinner at Napa Rose and just rest up at the hotel before boarding our ship the next day. The good news was that when we picked up our car in the Emerald Aisle, a black Challenger just like ours at home was sitting there waiting for us. Amazing. We’ve never seen a sporty car like that in the Emerald Aisle. So we were at least feeling comfortable driving a familiar car in the midst of all this craziness.

We were also happy we’d chosen the Residence Inn in Garden Grove just a few miles from Disneyland. We’d stayed there many times when we came in from Las Vegas and it felt like home. We’d booked and unbooked so many choices before we finally settled on this hotel, and we were glad we’d stuck with this choice. By the time we arrived at the hotel, we decided we should go ahead and celebrate and keep our dinner reservation at Napa Rose. Skipper would have wanted it that way.

We checked in and relaxed for a few hours and then valet parked the car at the Grand Californian. Unfortunately, the porte cochere was under some sort of refurbishment and we had to park over by the Conference Center, which meant a roundabout walk to the lobby. We admired the lobby, the oh so familiar Hearthstone Lounge, and our favorite gift shop before heading into Napa Rose a bit early. They seated us at a table in the Napa Rose Lounge and asked if I’d like a birthday pin. I said yes and we ordered a couple of glasses of MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir for old times’ sake.

Rich will write about the actual dinner. But let me say that this was our best experience at Napa Rose and the Napa Rose staff surprised me with so many wonderful birthday touches – far more than they had before. Maybe because Andrew Sutton was in the house and everybody outdid themselves. 🙂

And now for a few pics – we’d made a pact that we wouldn’t take any photos of each other because after travel day and the news about Skipper, we decided it would be best not to.

“Good Neighbor” Residence Inn Hotel along Hotel Row, Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove/Anaheim with our Black Challenger rental car (just like Home)

The Grand Californian Lobby – a site for sore eyes!

Our usual table at Hearthstone Lounge – ah….

A glass of MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir in the Napa Rose Lounge while we wait for our 7:30 p.m. reservation

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day One

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

Before we get into the actual trip report, I must get the sadness out of the way. We’d just landed at LAX and picked up our rental car and were trying to find the 405 S but missed our turn. Rich pulled into some driveway, I don’t remember now because I was totally devastated by the phone call from the pet sitter: “Skipper is gone!”

Our 18-year-old cat Skipper, who was more our son than pet, was looking amazingly well on his birthday in April. Our new vet who made house calls told us his kidneys had improved and he was doing quite well. We began to hope he’d be with us for several more years. But as the weeks went by, when he had good days and bad days, we realized this was probably his last year.

He was still having good days and bad days but on the day we left, it looked like one of his bad days. He didn’t wake us up at 6 am yelling for food. He was sleeping in the closet when I got up and peeked in on him. Rich carried him to the food dish and he ate a bite or two. He was a bit slow so I picked him up and carried him back to the closet where he loved to hide out and sleep for hours. Before leaving the house, we both peeked in on him and told him we loved him, hoping he’d still be here when we returned from the trip.

The pet sitter blamed herself for not checking on him earlier (we reassured her it was not her fault, and I blamed myself for leaving him, but Rich and our friends pointed out that this was Skipper’s way of shielding us from pain, and of doing this his way, as he did everything in his life his way. He was a very private cat – “stealth kitty” we called him.

This was our first pet that actually just died – we’d always had to make the Euthanasia choice for each one and that was extremely painful. Just writing this report is a bit too much so I’m not sure I can go into the many ways he was so special like I did for the other cats when they passed. It’ll probably take more time before I can do that.

But I just looked at my iPhone to gather pics for this report and I was greeted with this message: “On this day July 20, 2017.” Of course, there were 2 photos of Skipper. But I will post one of my favorite recent photos of Skipper when he and Shadow were hanging out like father and son, as if Skipper was revealing the secrets of the world to Shadow. We just had this photo framed and it looks adorable.

It will be good to get on with the trip report because, in spite of the sadness hanging over our hearts, it really was a wonderful trip! Later, when I can, I’ll share Skipper stories as a tribute to him. But, for now, I’m just too sad and depressed, to be coherent.

Photo taken in 2015 when Skipper (on left) was 15 years old and Shadow (on right) was 16 months

Skipper looking good on his 18th birthday, April 9, 2018

Our last photo of Skipper, just 4 days before the end

We love you, Skipper!
April 9, 2000-July 11, 2018

 

Prepping for Disneyland at Disney World at the Dolphin, Day Two (Final)

We were unsure where to have breakfast this morning, but, in the end, we chose France for our favorite beignets and champagne. We’d told ourselves we should boat in but our room was located near a walkway leading to the Yacht Club, so we walked over to International Gateway. We saw where the gondolas will go and couldn’t help but add to the cries of those of us who love the International Gateway and know it will change forever once the hordes arrive from other hotels.

We arrived at rope drop and were admitted onto the walkway leading to France. We each got a beignet, shared a coffee and a champagne, but because I woke up in need of some protein, we shared a quiche. Awesome way to begin the day! We just might have to make a special trip just for breakfast sometime soon. 🙂

Filled with energy, we decided to walk over to Mouse Gear to pick up the Donald Annual Passholder magnets, which are just like the Mickey ones but with Donald in a different color and just as huge – lol! Rich also got a cool shirt – we had found a Mickey journal I’d spied at the Contemporary on Easter so we got that for me the night before at the Screen Door.

We enjoyed the beautiful morning, the breakfast, and just being out and about, snapping some pics. We walked back to the boat dock. Of course, a boat had just left and we were wondering if we should just walk back but decided to wait for the boat. We ended up getting off at the Yacht Club and walking back because it was probably about the same distance to our room as the boat dock would be.

We packed, checked out, and drove home, wishing we weren’t so far from Disney. But the distance does justify an overnight, which is so awesome and we were really happy with the Dolphin.

 

Prepping for Disneyland at Disney World at the Dolphin, Day One Part Three

This was our first stay at the Dolphin and it was very nice. Because Starwood has merged with Marriott, we were upgraded to a Park view King room, instead of the basic view. We were able to watch fireworks from Illuminations from our room.

The bed was super comfortable, there was a nice couch, and the shower was a nice standup shower, rare on Disney property, unless it’s a DVC room.

After a nap from our busy morning, we headed out to the Boardwalk for something to eat. We ended up at Big River Grille, one of our favorite hangouts when we lived just two miles from WDW in Windermere.

We shared a Blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwich (they nicely cut it and served it on two plates for us), and we each had a beer. We enjoyed people-watching, then headed for our usual walk around the Boardwalk, stopping at the Screen Door where we picked up a bottle of wine and some Mickey chocolate caramels.

We enjoyed peeking in at the Flying Fish, reading the menu and noticing it didn’t seem quite as pricey as when it first opened. Perhaps this will be Rich’s birthday dinner?

Our next stop was Apple Hills Creamery – I thought I was too full but Rich asked if I would help him out with a dish of Butter Pecan Brittle and it was so amazing, I definitely ate half of it. 🙂

We made our walk around the Boardwalk, remembering so many times we did that when living nearby. In fact, we did it so often, it’s really taken ten years for me to really enjoy it again. 🙂

It started to sprinkle but we made it back to the room without getting too wet, enjoying the company of a family playing “Red Light Green Light” with the kids.

Today’s steps came to nine miles altogether and we were soooo tired. Thankfully, the miles were broken up so we didn’t get too sore.

We opened the wine, poured into the nice wine glasses provided, ate a few caramels, and then watched the fireworks from Illuminations before dozing off.

 

 

 

 

Prepping for Disneyland at Disney World at the Dolphin, Day One Part Two

Lunch at Skipper Canteen

We were ready to eat, but it was about half an hour before our Skipper Canteen reservation. We decided to check-in at the restaurant anyway, and we were seated in about 10 minutes. We had a cozy table for two in the main room, the Crew Mess Hall.

The theming of this restaurant is fantastic. It starts with the perfectly-themed outside covered reception/waiting area and extends through the whole restaurant, although we were glad we were seated in the Crew Mess Hall since the other two rooms were small and not as well themed. But, in the middle of a busy, crowded park, it really feels like you’ve been transported to the jungle. Absolutely wonderful!

Note from Kathy: And, for the first time, we ordered an alcoholic libation in the Magic Kingdom! This is what Blue Bayou at Disneyland needs – if you’re going to pay those prices, you should be able to have a glass of wine or beverage of your choice with it.

Our Menu

Drinks

Kathy: King Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (King Estate Winery, Eugene, Oregon)<

Rich: Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale – Draft (Concrete Beach Brewery, Miami, Florida)

African-inspired deep amber ale, brewed with a special blend of spices.

Appetizer (Shared)

Jungle Green Salad

Iceberg Wedge with Shishito Peppers, Radish, Hearts of Palm, Cucumbers, and Pistachios, Aji Pepper-Yogurt Dressing

Entrees

Kathy:

Perkins Thai Noodles

Chicken, Tofu, Seasonal Vegetables, and Rice Noodles, Tossed in a Spicy Soy-Chili Garlic Sauce

Rich:

Hardy Har Char Siu Pork

Char Siu Marinated Pork With Seasonal Vegetables and Jasmine Rice

Dessert (Shared)

Kungaloosh!

African-inspired chocolate cake with caramelized bananas served with cashew-caramel ice cream topped with coffee dust.

Let me say, as perfect as the themed atmosphere was, the food and drink were even better. Every bite was exquisite.

I had to have a Kungaloosh beer (on tap). It was a medium-bodied beer, expertly spiced, well balanced and refreshing — especially since we just escaped from the heat and humidity.

For an appetizer, we shared the Jungle Salad. I love iceberg wedge salads, and this was one of the best. The lettuce was fresh and crisp, and the other ingredients played ideally with it. This salad was so good, we created our version of it at home.

The entrees were just as good. Kathy’s Thai Noodles were flavorful and abundant. My pork was tender, somewhat sweet and sour, and a perfect match to the jasmine rice.

As we got the check, Kathy mentioned that she was craving chocolate to counteract the spicy noodles she had. We asked our server if there was a chocolate dessert we could have. Of course, there was — the Kungaloosh! This was a rich, sumptuous indulgence, and the perfect ending to our incredible meal.

As you may be able to tell, we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Skipper Canteen. Its theming, food, drink, and service are fabulous. It’s the perfect respite in the middle of the Magic Kingdom, taking you to whole new, delicious world.

Skipper Canteen Ceiling and Wall Decor

The Kungaloosh tasted as good as it looks

Rich enjoying his Kungaloosh Beer

Kathy’s Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Wedge Salad

Rich’s Entree (Pork and Rice)

Kathy’s Entree (Pad Thai)

Kungaloosh Dessert – yum!

After lunch, we were ready to leave the MK and check into the Dolphin for a much-needed rest before heading out for the evening. We definitely needed a break from the heat, humidity, and six miles we walked – always more challenging when it’s hot. This time we took the monorail and enjoyed sitting next to a cute family from Illinois. The little girl was the one to speak up to tell me I could sit next to her. :)<

Prepping for Disneyland at Disney World at the Dolphin, Day One Part One

So we chose to do an overnight at the Dolphin as our pet sitter test trip before going on a cross-country Disneyland and cruise trip. As it turns out, we were testing a lot more than the pet sitter – we were doing a whole test run for the bigger trip. Btw, the pet sitter is totally awesome!

We left home at 7 a.m. Friday morning to get to the Magic Kingdom by rope drop at 9 a.m. We got into some traffic on I-4 due to an accident (what else is new) but we detoured at Altamonte Springs and made it pretty much on time. We parked at the TTC, took the tram to the ferry and ferried over. We had two fastpasses: one for Pirates (eager to see the new “Redhead” scene especially as Fresh Baked had a detailed comparison to the before and after at Disneyland) and for Haunted Mansion. We also had lunch ressies at Skipper’s Canteen.

A beautiful morning at the Magic Kingdom

Before our first FP window, we rode the People Mover and then Carousel of Progress, two rides no longer at Disneyland, obviously. Rich hadn’t been to the MK since we lived here last time about six years ago. I’d popped in last summer to ride Mine Train, which I was not a fan of. In the meantime, we’d been to Disneyland numerous times of late so the layout seemed all wrong to us – lol!

We stopped to get breakfast: Mickey Bar for Rich and Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich for me – nothing better than that – lol!

Rich and his Mickey Bar

Then it was time for our FP window for Pirates. On our way, we passed  the Skipper Canteen, which I call the Skipper’s Canteen, maybe because our oldest cat is named Skipper. I’d taken this photo when I saw it for the first time last summer, but this was Rich’s first view of it. We were both looking forward to lunch.

Skipper Canteen

We were a bit disappointed that really the only change for Pirates at WDW was the redhead scene – we were all geared up to notice the differences like at Disneyland but, of course, the ride is so different here at WDW and so less than. You get used to it but when you’re used to Disneyland, it seems like more of a non-ride.

A bit blurry so here’s a shot from the internet (we forgot the camera at home. Tip #1: pack camera for next trip)

We also stopped in to watch Country Bears, which is no longer at Disneyland

Country Bears, no longer at Disneyland

Second FastPass window for Haunted Mansion was open

I used to be more excited by this version with the stairs but after the Disneyland HM recently and with the holiday overlay, I noticed it was no longer a favorite.

We wandered through Fantasyland and noticed It’s a Small World had a very long line and Peter Pan was 70 minutes. Not surprised by thought we’d take a look anyway. We made our way through the Castle and was rewarded with the Fairy Godmother.

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and friends

Then we headed for Skipper’s Canteen, although we were about half an hour early. We took a chance that they could seat us early, which they did. Rich will write about our yummy lunch next.

 

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip (Pre-Trip Report) Updated

So excited, I’m jumping up and down! We’ve been going back and forth with how to celebrate my birthday in SoCal. Longing for home, we’ve booked and unbooked hotels near the beach, near Disneyland, and then finally booked a cruise. But I started to miss Disneyland. So, here are the latest plans:

Wednesday:

MCO to LAX, check into Anaheim Hilton. Dinner at Napa Rose

Thursday:

Drive to Huntington Beach, breakfast at Norm’s, then drive up PCH to Long Beach where we will board Carnival cruise ship at the new terminal – can’t wait to try the new terminal! Cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada, round trip.

Friday:

Day at Sea – Sea Day Brunch, Chef’s Table birthday dinner

Saturday:

Ensenada – booked a wine and lunch excursion in the vineyards. Were so wowed by the vineyards in Ensenada several years ago. Who knew Ensenada had such a wine culture? You usually think of Tequila when you think of Mexico.

Sunday:

Return to Long Beach. Drive to Disneyland – get park hopper – do Disneyland in the morning, check into Anaheim Hilton for afternoon rest, and then back to DCA for the evening – Dinner at Carthay Circle (martinis and amazing biscuits, here we come!)

Monday:

LAX to MCO

I’m so stoked about getting to do Disneyland, the beach, and a cruise for my birthday! In the meantime, we’ve got a little overnight trip planned for Epcot and the MK as a pet sitter test run. She seems really great and was recommended by our visit but it’s always good to do a short trip close to home before flying across the country and going out to sea. Just in case anything needs to be ironed out.

 

Rosé Tasting with Master Sommellier at Wine Bar George and a Walk Down Memory Lane

Oh my, my, where to begin? Well, when I saw the special event posted on Instagram, well, I had to forward it to Rich and he immediately bought our tickets for Saturday afternoon from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. It soon sold out and we noticed that in addition to the Friday afternoon event at the same time, a new event was created for 1:00 p.m. before our tasting. Nice to see the popularity of such an event. As you will recall, we ate lunch at Wine Bar George on the first full opening day a couple of weeks ago. We were so impressed, we knew we’d be back, but not so soon and at a special event.

Loving wine, vineyards, wineries, and anything related to wine, having grown up in a family’s Central Valley vineyard, living near Napa/Sonoma/Livermore and even a few years living near the Willamette Valley vineyards, well, let’s just say neither of us can resist such an event.

George is amazing, so friendly, knowledgeable, sef-effacing, and a great storyteller. We’re not that into Rosé but he made it an awesome event. And we came away with a new respect for Rosé.

We were divided into groups of six at five tables. We managed to sit next to the woman who won the little contest identifying all six wines by region – she identified all six correctly, a feat nobody had managed at the two previous events. She’s quite the Rosé drinker. 🙂

Each table also had a charcuterie/cheese/bread board – amazing! What’s not to love – food, wine, good company, and Disney?

So stoked after the event, we decided this was the time to walk over to Saratoga Springs for the first time since we’ve been back in Central Florida. We used to do this walk often when we lived in Windermere. In fact, this was my “go-to” place to celebrate (i.e., let off steam) the release of my books.

We noticed the new boat dock and shortcut to the walkway leading to Saratoga Springs, which was a great improvement. We stopped in at our favorite pool bar and Rich asked about bartender Rich to see if he was still there. He was, much to our surprise, but he wasn’t working that day. Well have to go back and say hi.

In the wine mood and a bit hungry after just a few snacks during the tasting, I found a table and Rich ordered two glasses of Cab and a cheeseburger flatbread. It was a bit warm sitting here, so we found our way to some shadier chairs on the other side of the pool near the Agapanthas, a flowering bush found all over California, including the Disneyland resort. After our meal, we stopped in at Artist Palette and the gift shop for old times’ sake.

 

We walked back and made our way to the Orange garage, and ended up walking 4.5 miles again. But this time, unlike at Epcot, whenever my hip started hurting after about 3-3.5 miles, we sat down and took a break so I was able to make it back to the car without any problems.

We stopped off to listen to some music reminiscent of what we used to hear at Downtown Disney near the Grand Californian. Disney Springs has so upped their vibe, Disneyland is going to have to work hard to keep up. 🙂